Georgia’s nationally-ranked track and field teams head out in three different directions for four separate meets this weekend with the Southeastern Conference Indoor Championships on the horizon.
Meet Weekend #6 Starts . . . : Georgia will travel 40 competitors to a pair of meets in Birmingham, Ala. The Samford Open runs Friday and Saturday and starts with the men’s high jump and women’s 200-meter dash at 9 p.m. ET on Friday.
The Samford Invitational is a one-day meet on Saturday starting with the women’s weight throw at 10 a.m. and runs all day. Many of the Bulldog competitors will be entered in their respective events twice over the course of the weekend during the two meets.
Distance coach Patrick Cunniff is also taking seven distance and mid-distance men to Seattle, Wash., for the annual two-day Husky Classic. Running events will begin at 7 p.m. on Friday and then noon on Saturday.
Finally, sprints coach Ken Harnden will take four of his sprinters to Nashville, Tenn., to run in the 4×400 relay at the Music City Challenge at 6:10 p.m. on Saturday.
Kyprianou’s Comments: “Our major goal going into these meets is for us to get another good experience, another good jump, another good run, another good throw at the site of the NCAA Championships,” said Bulldog head coach Petros Kyprianou. “This time, we are in a little better shape than last time we went to Birmingham. I want to see where our student-athletes are conditioning-wise and do a few events that either allow them to improve their NCAA qualifying marks or get on the top 16 list to give us a little bit of a push going into the SEC meet.”
Kyprianou and his assistants also decided to send a total of 11 other team members to another pair of meets as the time winds down to qualify for Nationals.
“We want to give our runners the chance to pick up an NCAA qualifying mark by going to two other meets outside of Birmingham,” he explained. “We have the middle-distance crew going all the way to Seattle to go up against very talented competition to see if they can improve their NCAA ranking. Our 4×400 team will also be going to Vanderbilt to face another strong field and hopefully improve their marks to get onto the national top-10 list.”
Where The Bulldogs Rank: The Georgia women are ranked second in the latest U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) national poll. The Bulldog men are ranked 10th nationally going into this weekend. The women’s ranking matches the team’s top final NCAA indoor finish in history while the men’s top final ranking of all-time is sixth.
With the SEC Indoor Championships up next for the Bulldogs on February 26-27, six of the league’s men’s teams are ranked in the nation’s top 10 and three of the conference’s women’s teams are currently in the country’s top 10.
Who Is Representing The Red And Black: The following Lady Bulldogs are traveling to Birmingham: graduate student Xenia Rahn, seniors Chanice Porter, Ashley Henry, Torrenzia Lyles, Brooke Koblitz, Shelby Ashe, juniors Kendell Williams, Leontia Kallenou, Georgia Stefanidi, Morgan Green, sophomores Keturah Orji, Mady Fagan, Emily Savage, Hailey Branch, Allie Castro, Devon Artis, Katie Stone, Kate Northrop, Lauren Hovis, Natalie Bordes, Aliyah Johnson, Asianna Covington, Morgan Ainslie, freshmen Grace Tavani, Kingsley Green, Dorie Faber, Mary Terry and Caroline Dickey.
The following Georgia men will be joining them in the CrossPlex facility: seniors Ashinia Miller, Jimmy Hicks, Michael Giuliano, Garrett Scantling, Maicel Uibo, juniors Reggie Glover, Jon Okoye, Alex Poursanidis, Morgan Malanoski, sophomore Karl Saluri and freshmen Denzel Comenentia and Daniel Navarro.
Seniors Christian Harrison, Kisean Smith, Zack Sims, Steven Spevacek, junior Sid Vaughn, sophomore Bryan Kamau and freshman Jeramey Hampton departed Athens on Thursday morning bound for their distance races in Seattle.
In addition, senior Ayrian Evans, juniors Derrick White and Maurice Freeman and sophomore Raytez Jenkins will be traveling to Nashville to run in the 4×400 relay.
Now, Where The Bulldog INDIVIDUALS Rank: With SECs coming and the NCAA Championships set to begin in Birmingham on March 11-12, Georgia is concentrating on placing as many competitors as possible in the top 16 on the NCAA descending order lists.
Here’s who is currently ranked in the top 16: MEN – Garrett Scantling – Heptathlon – 1sts (6,020 pts); Maciel Uibo – Heptathlon – 4th (5,854 pts); Ashinia Miller – Shot put – 5th (65 feet, 1 1Ž2 inches); Denzel Comenentia – Shot put – 9th (63-0); Karl Saluri – Heptathlon – 9th (5,686); Devon Williams – Heptathlon – 12th (5,657); Evans, Jenkins, Freeman, Glover – 4×400 relay – 15th (3:08.90); Kisean Smith – 800 meters – 16th (1:48.35).
WOMEN – Keturah Orji – Triple jump – 1st (44-5.50); *Kendell Williams – Pentathlon – 2nd (4,558 pts); *Kendell Williams – High jump – T-2nd (6-1.50); Chanice Porter – High jump – T-2nd (6-1.50); Chanice Porter – Long Jump – 3rd (21-7.25); Tatiana Gusin – High jump – T-7th (6-1.25); Keturah Orji – Long Jump – 6th (21-4.25); *Xenia Rahn – Pentathlon – 9th(4,212); *Kendell Williams – Long jump – T-11th (20-11.25); Mady Fagan – High Jump – T-11th (6-0); Kendell Williams – 60 hurdles – T-11th (8.20).
*mark achieved in multi-events
Jumping Into Position: Senior Chanice Porter had already tied the school record in the long jump (21-7.25) this season, which propelled her to the No. 3 spot on the national list. Porter, who is a four-time First Team All-American long jumper, then moved into a tie for second on the national high jump list with three other competitors, including teammate Kendell Williams, after clearing a career-best height of 6-1.50 to win the VT Elite Meet.
For her most recent success, the Prattville, Jamaica, native was named the SEC Women’s Field Athlete of the Week. Porter advanced to the 2015 NCAA Outdoor Championships in the high jump after starting to compete in the event at the collegiate level last year as a junior.
Speaking Of Bulldog High Jumpers: Last time Georgia visited Birmingham, Mady Fagan reached a career-best height of 6-0 to be the top collegiate finisher in the high jump. She currently stands tied for 11th nationally with the 10th-best mark in UGA history.
10,647 Points In Two Meets: At the Razorback Invitational (Jan. 29-30), Devon Williams posted a huge long jump mark of 24-11 and matched his personal best of 7.85 in the 60 hurdles. However, the Marietta, Ga., native no heighted the pole vault during his seven events of the heptathlon and finished with 4,990 points.
With four days rest in between and over an eight-day span, Williams traveled to the Doc Hale Virginia Tech Elite Meet (Feb. 5-6) for his second heptathlon and left with the second-best score of his career (5,657) thanks in part to a 15-1 clearance in the pole vault. He is 12th on the national performance list and is one of four Bulldogs on the NCAA’s heptathlon list currently qualified for Nationals.
Birmingham – Home Away From Home: This pair of meets will mark two of the six meets Georgia is competing in at Birmingham’s CrossPlex facility this year. In addition to the throwers’ trip there in December, a pair of meets hosted by UAB in mid-January and the two meets this weekend, the Bulldogs will return for the NCAA Indoor Championships. This will mark the first time that the NCAA meet is in this location.